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Local experts: could another housing bust be on the way?

Posted at 11:22 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 23:22:50-04

Some northeast Ohio experts report they're seeing some signs federal and local government may be repeating some of the mistakes that led to the 2008 housing bust.

Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis pointed to recent reductions in home loan minimum payment requirements by Freddie Mac to just 3%, joining both Fannie Mae and FHA.

Rokakis said rushing people into homeownership, who may not be ready, is a mistake that could play a part in another economic crash.

"It's a mistake, and I just think we need to go slow, we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the last decade," said Rokakis.

"They are also increasing the amount of debt to income ratio they're going to accept. So they're allowing people up to 50% of their income to take these mortgages, and that's a big mistake."

Norman Lange, former vice president of First Merit and Huntington Banks, who helped put together financing for the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gateway project, told News 5 he sees other signs we may be headed for another downturn.

Lange cited reports showing consumer debt, and student loan debt, at an all-time high.

Lange also pointed to major corporations who are now dealing with plenty of excess leverage.

"Bank consolidations, corporate consolidations, evermore leverage," Lange said.

"I mean the stock buybacks that are going on."

Paula Young, owner of Prestige Realty since 1999, told News 5 she's concerned recent Cuyahoga Country reassessments, showing many local property values on a big upswing, could lead some homes towards being over-valued.

"The last time we saw the spike, it was in the opposite direction in 2008, when the market crashed," Young said.

"It's going to bust, we're going to have another bust again, I see it coming.  Whether it's going to be 2020 or 2022.  I believe it's going to happen soon."

Meanwhile, both Lange and Rokakis warned consumers to be conservative in their spending, despite a recent uptick in the stock market.

Rokakis said consumers shouldn't take on homeownership unless they have a significant down payment of at least 10%.

"I think we should all be concerned about rushing people into homeownership who are not ready," Rokakis said.

"Especially with such a high percentage of people in this country who live paycheck to paycheck."